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The Pentagon Is Neither Woke Nor Based

by | Nov 1, 2022

The Pentagon Is Neither Woke Nor Based

by | Nov 1, 2022

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The U.S. military has in recent times been making a big show of its “wokeness,” not only by changing the names of institutions to comply with the demands of race activists who wish to expunge from history all traces of the Confederacy, but also in its affirmation and encouragement of persons who lead alternative lifestyles. For nearly twenty years, beginning in 1993, the military maintained a “don’t ask, don’t tell,” policy on homosexuality. Since 2011, however, openly gay persons have been permitted to serve in the armed forces.

Given this context, some were surprised to learn that the Department of Defense has explicitly specified that transgender women must register for the Selective Service, while transgender men need not. The official website states:

Selective Service bases the registration requirement on gender assigned at birth and not on gender identity or on gender reassignment. Individuals who are born male and changed their gender to female are still required to register. Individuals who are born female and changed their gender to male are not required to register.

Through the Selective Service and Training Act, registration of men was first required in 1940 so as to make it possible for the government to locate potential soldiers in the event of a military draft. The law was amended as the Elston Act (aka the Selective Service Act) in 1948, and is still in place nearly seventy-five years later. There has been no draft called since the U.S. military intervention in Vietnam, from 1964 to 1973, but the option remains open to the war-making authority, the executive branch of the government, at the pinnacle of which stands the politician who managed to be elected as president. Since 1940, males eighteen years of age have been required by law to register with the Selective Service; females have not.

Traditionalists (and students of biology) stand firm in their belief that the possession of a Y chromosome in every cell of one’s body properly identifies a human being as a biological male, whatever his lifestyle choices and preferences may be, and whatever surgical changes he may undertake to remove or alter body parts. Laypersons who in the era of “woke” dare to make such claims, what seems to many to be a matter of common sense, have been known to be denounced as TERFs (trans-exclusionary radical feminists) by angry mobs online. Will the U.S. military now be subjected to similar barrages of anger?

Despite the military’s “woke” rhetoric regarding race and critical race theory, and its accommodating policies toward homosexual persons, it does look as though the Department of Defense has boldly affirmed the reality of biological sex, through its explicit assertion that a biological male is and always will be a biological male, even if he chooses to pump his body with estrogen, have his genitals surgically removed, wear makeup and don miniskirts. I include the latter two attributes because of the many trans-caricatures of femininity currently on display, as exemplified by Dylan Mulvaney, a twenty-five-year-old trans-activist who on day 222 of claiming “womanhood” was granted an interview with President Biden. Many of the very public, and often melodramatic, displays of transgenderism found not only on TikTok but also in commercial advertisements reduce women to the ditzy, superficial, and degrading stereotypes of decades past. If we are to believe transwomen such as Dylan Mulvaney, the “gentler sex” spends the bulk of their creative energy and time in endeavors such as painting their nails and shopping for new clothes.

In this somewhat astonishing cultural development, men who transition are thus allowed to indulge in outright misogyny, by overtly ridiculing women through conducting themselves in ways reminiscent of and entirely analogous to the racist portrayal of African Americans by white persons in blackface. Transwomen have also been permitted to compete alongside biological females in sports, with the predictable outcome that girls and women are being denied what would otherwise be their opportunity for success in athletics, and as a result do not enjoy the recognition, awards and scholarships which some of them surely deserve for their prowess.

Whatever sins of sexism transwomen may be permitted, they will not, the Pentagon has made clear, be able to evade the military draft. Yes, despite the reigning insanity on the transgender issue, propelled forward by misogynistic ad campaigns by companies such as ULTA, the U.S. military’s Selective Service registration policy is holding the line: a female is and always will be a biological female, even if she chooses to have some of the muscle in her leg transformed into a prosthetic penis, undergo a double mastectomy, and suffuse her body with testosterone in order to bulk up her muscles, lower her voice, and be able to grow a beard. The military powers that be have sided with traditionalists in asserting that, no matter how many surgeries they may undergo, “transmen are not really men,” and “transwomen are not really women,” because the former lack Y chromosomes, while the latter do not.

The Selective Service statement may look like a “gotcha” to those keen on calling a halt to the biology-denying madness. But just as earlier efforts to appear “feminist” arguably betrayed only the Pentagon’s concern to increase flagging enrollment, I strongly suspect that this bold proclamation of the reality of biological sex is part of a broader effort to force Selective Service registration upon every person, whether or not they possess a Y chromosome. By broaching the question of biological sex at all, the reignited debate about the requirement upon men, but not women, will likely be used to provoke lawmakers to “update” the requirement. It is obviously to the Pentagon’s advantage—and indeed, I am suggesting, it is their intent—to double the number of persons required to register and thus be prepared for future conscription in one of the many wars brewing on the horizon. Perversely enough, it will be yet another show of “wokeness” when the administration begins to insist that fairness and equity require that all persons, no matter their gender, be treated the same. In other words, the Pentagon is laying the groundwork for this sort of argument:

If biological males are required to register for Selective Service, then, because biological females are of equal value and worth to males, they, too, should be required to register. To hold any other position would be to claim that the sexes are not equal, to deny that females have the same worth and value as do males.

Lawmakers seem unlikely to abolish the Selective Service requirement for the same reason that they rubber stamp every single new military budget, prioritizing war over all other things. Indeed, Republican and Democratic lawmakers may disagree on every other possible allocation of taxpayers’ funds, but they form a united, virtually impenetrable front, the War Party duopoly, in supporting any and every initiative characterized, however implausibly, as a matter of national defense.

The Selective Service registration requirement has remained in place for so many decades because it is facilely depicted as a matter of necessary preparedness for the eventuality of conflicts such as World War II. But because every military intervention abroad is portrayed as a matter of defense—even the ongoing border dispute between Ukraine and Russia has been cast as a necessary defense of “democracy”—there is little reason to believe that lawmakers would agree to abolish the Selective Service registration requirement when it comes time to decide whether or not to include females alongside males. Instead, so-called liberals will be seduced by pseudo-feminist and “woke” rhetoric to insist much more enthusiastically than their “based” colleagues that the requirement be expanded, not abolished. Such unwitting dupes will no doubt be enlisted to help disseminate the Pentagon propaganda line according to which the affirmation of equality of all persons mandates that everyone of military age be required to register.

The Pentagon has been plagued by dwindling voluntary enlistments ever since the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003. A series of atrocities committed by troops and private contractors throughout the “Global War on Terror” no doubt exacerbated the problem, by progressively chipping away whatever illusions of nobility prospective enlistees may have formerly associated with soldiering. Evidence that the recruitment crisis remains pressing in 2022 includes tweets from the Selective Service Twitter account (@SSS_gov), such as the one from October 7, in which parents are informed that even if they have only one son, he must register for the Selective Service:

On its face, this seems a bizarre announcement to make out of the blue. Except that it is not out of the blue, for all of these ploys are, again, plausibly part of the Pentagon’s gambit to increase the number of persons available for the wars which they are actively planning and fomenting, whether with Russia, China, Iran, the interminable “Global War on Terror” throughout the Middle East and Africa, or—why not?—yet another deadly meddling effort in Haiti.

As evidence of the ultimate aim of the Selective Service transgender policy, some of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s recent proclamations have been telling:

https://twitter.com/DeptofDefense/status/1581618567380103169

The U.S. military recently announced that it will pay for the travel of female troops who wish to terminate a pregnancy but are not located in a state where (post-Dodd) abortions are legal and therefore can be undertaken safely. It may sound cynical to suggest that females who carry their pregnancies to term, too, diminish the number of active troops, but in view of the scandalous epidemic of military rapes and sexual abuse endured by female enlistees in all branches of the armed forces in recent decades (see The Invisible War, a 2013 documentary film directed by Kirby Dick), it is not at all an implausible explanation for the accommodating stance of the DoD toward women seeking abortions.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s exuberant pro-war tweets regularly appear in my Twitter feed, and other users may have noticed in recent months an upsurge in the appearance of tweets from accounts not being followed. Significantly, these are not paid advertisements, but texts which are prioritized for dissemination and are all connected to the government in some way. Along with Austin, examples include NATO administrators, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Samantha Power (of USAID, which is well known to be a CIA front), among other figure heads, up to and including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the president himself, Joe Biden. War is the media topic of the day, but during the COVID crisis, I recall having been “treated” to a non-stop stream of tweets by vaccine entrepreneur Bill Gates—until I muted him.

Any number of less well known propagandists now appear to be paid specifically to promote war, and their slogans and exhortations also pop up in “the latest tweets” more frequently than even paid advertising. Meanwhile, accounts known to promote “dangerous” antiwar messages are shadowbanned, with tweets not even included in the feeds of their very own followers. (Anecdotally, I have determined from the analytics bar that Twitter allows my own tweets to appear in the feed of twenty-two persons.) Accounts with an antiwar “bias,” as the Disinformation Governance Board might characterize it, are capped so as to limit the number of followers. And of course anyone with an antiwar blog or website needs only to attempt to locate its articles through Google search to see how difficult they are to find.

All of this is to say that the government has commandeered social media as a vehicle for the promotion of its own propaganda. Governments have always attempted to control the narrative, but this trend has become especially glaring in the years since the ratification of the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act, which lifted restrictions against propagandizing U.S. citizens by the government itself using (what else?) taxpayers’ own money to do so. In fact, that the U.S. government has exerted influence over Twitter is not all that surprising, given what we already knew about Facebook and YouTube.

The purchase of Twitter by self-proclaimed free speech champion Elon Musk may or may not improve the situation. It is worth remembering the recent report that the U.S. government intended to investigate Musk, which appeared shortly after he made the “mistake” of suggesting that the Ukraine-Russia conflict should be settled through negotiation. Musk has been providing internet access to the Ukrainian government through his Starlink company, but he crossed the MIC line when he dared to opine that negotiation might be preferable to nuclear holocaust. If Musk’s takeover of Twitter was greenlighted by the U.S. government, then it may well have been as a result of some sort of accommodation on his part.

In any case, regardless of what happens to Twitter, the Pentagon’s propaganda machine is so vast and powerful that self-styled liberals have already been swindled into supporting the allocation of massive funding to a border dispute—over a line drawn thirty years ago by a small committee of men—between a non-nuclear and a nuclear power. This infusion of billions of dollars into the conflict between Ukraine and Russia serves no purpose beyond lining the pockets of war profiteers, while diminishing rather than enhancing the security of those who foot the bill, by increasing the likelihood of a devastating conflict between two nuclear powers. It is striking that so-called progressives, who claim to care about the domestic problems currently faced by their constituents—the cost of healthcare, the housing and homelessness crisis, the drug overdose epidemic, elevated grocery and gas prices caused by inflation, etc.—have signed off on bills to print and dole out billions of dollars to Ukraine rather than address the pressing problems with which the nation itself is undeniably beset.

A recent letter by thirty lawmakers, members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus led by Representative Pramila Jayapal, urged President Biden to pursue a negotiated solution to the Ukraine-Russia crisis and thus appeared to offer a glimmer of hope, albeit tardily. After six months of silence on the issue, it seemed that progressives were finally going to act as progressives, perhaps spurred on by the upcoming election and push back from voting constituents. To the great disappointment of sane people everywhere, however, the group abruptly withdrew the letter by the very next day, claiming (implausibly enough) both that it had been written months before and that it was sent out by a staffer in error. (It seems safe to say that prevarication is not Representative Jayapal’s forte.) One thing is clear: the saber-rattling Democratic Party no longer permits antiwar dissenters in its ranks, for it is obvious that someone was taken out to the woodshed by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi or one of her operatives.

These are troubling times for free thinkers and peace-loving people, and given the capture of both mainstream and social media by the military’s propaganda machine, it is sadly predictable how “progressive” congresspersons will vote when faced with the Selective Service registration issue. For if the choice is that either everyone or else no one must be prepared to defend the nation, we can expect self-styled human rights savvy progressive lawmakers to insist that the Selective Service requirement be expanded, not abolished. Indeed, the most vociferous supporters of expanding the Selective Service requirement will be found among the progressive “woke” camp, who will insist that the issue is a matter of human rights.

In truth, mandatory conscription is the very antithesis of upholding human rights, for draftees are the moral equivalent of slaves, and slaves are people from whom all rights have been stripped away. Any person, whether male or female, heterosexual or homosexual, is free to enlist in the military. The pertinent question, then, is whether it is fair for only men to be subject to enslavement by the government. But of course it is never “fair” to strip human beings of their freedom. The answer to the question is that no one, neither men nor women, should be transformed into slaves. Governments are erected and exist to serve the people. Any institution or administration which undermines or usurps the interests and rights of citizens should be defunded and disbanded, having transmogrified into the antithesis of what it purports to be. To borrow a term which has become popular in “woke” circles, a government which perpetrates such abuses of power should be cancelled.

About Laurie Calhoun

Laurie Calhoun is the author of We Kill Because We Can: From Soldiering to Assassination in the Drone Age, War and Delusion: A Critical Examination, Theodicy: A Metaphilosophical Investigation, You Can Leave, Laminated Souls, and Philosophy Unmasked: A Skeptic's Critique, in addition to many essays and book chapters.

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